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Reflecting on EDI work in the Irish HE sector at Equitas 2024

30 May 2024 | Sarah Murtagh Sarah Murtagh, recently appointed to the new role of International Development Manager at Advance HE, summarises the two-day Equitas Conference held at the Technological University of the Shannon.

Advance HE was delighted to support and sponsor the second Equitas: EDI in Practice in Higher Education Conference; it’s such an important event in the Irish HE sector. 

There is strong commitment across the sector in Ireland to support, embed and drive best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Following the inaugural Equitas conference, which took place last year in South East Technological University (SETU), this year’s conference focused on giving an opportunity for reflection on the work to date across the sector, sharing best practice and providing a platform for new and emerging research and developing projects on key aspects of EDI. 


The conference was attended by Vice Presidents, academics across disciplines, researchers, graduates, students, Heads of EDI and EDI Managers, as well as EDI practitioners and administrators.

Delegates explored four overarching themes including:

  • Intersectionality in Practice
  • Embedding EDI in Higher Education: Supporting Culture Change by Moving Beyond the Echo Chamber
  • EDI in a Data-driven World
  • Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workforce from an EDI perspective.

Inclusive toolkit 

‘EDIT – An Inclusive Toolkit’, developed by the Technological Universities, in collaboration with Advance HE, was launched at the conference. The toolkit was developed as part of the Embedding Equality Diversity & Inclusion in the Curriculum of the new Technological University Sector (EDIT) Project and is designed as a practical guide to support the Technological University (TU) sector to implement inclusive curriculum principles across their universities. 

I am truly delighted to launch the EDIT toolkit here today, among such a wonderful community of EDI professionals, academics and researchers across the island of Ireland. This toolkit is the culmination of over two years work and is the product of significant consultation with our colleagues across our universities.

“In the TU sector, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that EDI becomes a key feature of our student experience through our curricula content and delivery, and this toolkit aims to provide the very tools needed to ensure that we seize this opportunity. It will be of practical use, not only in Tus but in all HEIs and indeed, to the further education sector. We hope that it inspires and challenges us all who work in HEIs to do better, and that ultimately, it will help contribute to better experiences and outcomes for both our students and society.”

Dr Allison Keneally, VP for EDI at SETU, speaking at the launch

Dr Allison Keneally, VP for EDI at SETU, speaking at the launch of EDIT - An Inclusive Toolkit
Dr Allison Keneally, VP for EDI at SETU, speaking at the launch of EDIT - An Inclusive Toolkit


Roxanne Hobbs, founder of The Hobbs Consultancy for diversity and inclusion,  delivered a galvanising keynote address on courageous leadership, touching on the teachings of Brené Brown around armoured leadership in contrast to daring leadership. 

Dr Lisa O’Rourke Scott, chartered Psychologist and chair of the Limerick Mental Health Association (LMHA), gave a thought-provoking and informative presentation on why mental health matters, discussing the launch of the LMHA training for mental wellness at work. 

Finally, Professor Nicola Rollock, author of the Racial Code: Tales of Resistance and Survival delivered a closing keynote address entitled ‘Toward an intersectional lens: racial justice in higher education’, which challenged delegates to think critically about how we understand racial justice and how, as a result, we implement more effective strategies for change. 

The 2024 Equitas closed with a fireside chat and private showing of ‘Certain Individual Women’ - an award-winning project by poet Julie Morrissey which responds to inherent gender inequality in Irish law and society.



Sarah Murtagh is International Development Manager at Advance HE. She works within Ireland, and increasingly beyond, to support Advance HE’s broader European growth. Sarah previously held the role of Athena Swan Project Officer in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit, University College Cork.  


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